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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 13, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 33
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Wildest Dream has it all ... in IMAX
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

The Wildest Dream
Now Playing


Anthony Geffen's new film, The Wildest Dream, has it all: perilous expeditions to exotic locales, spine-tingling action/adventure sequences, dizzying cinematography, handsome heroes, the gorgeous women who love them, and a couple of juicy love stories. If that's not enough, the film will be screened in IMAX. Oh yeah, and it's also a documentary.

The Wildest Dream chronicles the lives of George Mallory and Conrad Anker, two men whose mountaineering adventures are inextricably intertwined despite being separated in time by more than 75 years. Mallory is best known for his famous reply to the question, "Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?" Anker is best known for finding Mallory's weathered remains on Everest's treacherous northeast ridge. (Anker is also an author, film producer, humanitarian, all-around nice guy, and quite simply one of the best mountain climbers ever.)

Mallory and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, disappeared near Everest's summit in 1924. They were last spotted just below the infamous Second Step, a rocky precipice that's been bridged by a 15-foot aluminum ladder since 1975. The debate continues to this day as to whether, or not, Mallory and Irvine had the skill to successfully free-climb the feature with their '20s-era gear and clothing.

I briefly spoke to Anker during the screening's short intermission, and via phone a couple of days later. When asked if he believes Mallory and Irvine made the summit Anker says, "There's a good chance they could have. It's not impossible. But it's not my place to say, well, they did or they didn't, but it's rather to celebrate their life and what it was like to explore in 1924."

Anker is correct, of course. And we'll never know for certain one way or another unless new evidence surfaces (a highly unlikely scenario). Still, I doubt the speculation and arguments will cease any time soon.

The mystery is augmented by the missing photo of Mallory's beloved wife Ruth that he had vowed to leave at the summit. Though Mallory's belongings were amazingly intact after 75 years, the photo was missing.

The film also follows Anker and his angel-faced, blue-eyed climbing partner, Leo Holding, as they retrace Mallory and Irvine's route in 2007. The boys experiment with gear and clothing identical to that of Mallory and Irvine. They also attempt a knuckle-biting free-climb of the Second Step that will likely leave you queasy.

Along with the amazing adventures of the four crazy/courageous (you pick) mountaineers, there are a couple of profound love stories. The first is between Mallory and his loyal wife who worried away the hours back in England while raising three kids as the man she loved risked everything for a few moments at the top of the world. Their love affair is drawn through a series of letters exchanged while Mallory was away.

The second is between Anker and his wife Jennifer, the widow of his best friend and climbing partner Alex Lowe. Their love affair, chronicled in more detail in the 2007 documentary The Endless Knot, grew from the grief and guilt around the 1999 avalanche that took Lowe's life and nearly killed Anker.

The Wildest Dream is now playing at the Pacific Science Center's IMAX theater. It is truly a documentary that has it all. The stories are fascinating and inspiring, the filmmaking is breathtaking, and it's all in the glorious cinematic splendor of IMAX. Why should you go see it? Because it's there.


Scott Pilgrim vs. Un Chien Andalou
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Opening August 13

How many 18-24-year-old dudes would trot out to the local MegaCinePlex to see Un Chien Andalou, a film with a tagline that read, 'A purely Surrealist cinematic experience that owes a great debt to André Breton, Luis Buñuel, and Salvador Dalí'? My estimate: seven.

In his seminal 1924 text, Breton defines Surrealism as 'a pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express, either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside all aesthetic or mental preoccupations.'

In other words, Surrealism, despite the capricious bandying about of the term by the masses, seeks to render thought into art.

What the fuck does all this have to do with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? Scott (Michael Cera) is a 22-year-old garage-band slacker who's dating the safest girl in Toronto (Ellen Wong) while mourning the break-up with his ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams (Brie Larson), who has since become a huge rock star and dates her über-hot, slightly psychic bass player, bleached blonde vegetarian boy toy Todd (the smokin' hot Brandon Routh, aka Superman).

Just when Scott thinks he has a groove on dating a safe girl and drowning in self-indulgent grieving, in walks Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the mysterious new girl in town who oozes droll hipster boredom - which is apparently like pheromone-crack to 22-year-old garage-band slackers. Without breaking up with the safest girl in the world, Scott begins to pursue Ramona with all the intensity expected of a horny 22-year-old garage-band slacker. Just as he starts to make some serious headway with the object of his affections, enter one Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), Ramona's first ex. And thus Scott finds out he'll have to fight all seven of Ramona's previous lovers if he wants to date her.

So, what the fuck does this have to do with a bunch of dead Europeans who did weird stuff in the 1920s and '30s? The bottom line is that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is pure Surrealism as defined by Breton and practiced by Buñuel and Dalí. Director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) expertly moves us from a dingy apartment shared by a 22-year-old garage-band slacker and his Queer best friend (Kieran Culkin, stealing scenes like a Wall Street investment banker) into the mind of that 22-year-old garage-band slacker. Once there, we find a world filled with girls and bands and guys and cool clubs. There are guys that are cooler than Scott, guys better looking than Scott, guys who play guitar better than Scott, and guys who are more savvy than Scott. And Scott has to kick their asses one by one.

The psychic world of Scott Pilgrim is a place where fantastic fights end with no blood, no bruises, and only one man standing. It's a place where graphic hearts pop out of kisses and music emanates aurally, physically, and visually. It's a place where nice guys treat girls badly but still get to end up with them. It's Scott's mind cinematically turned inside-out in the digital age, and it looks a lot like a video game - a really fun video game.

Cera delivers another excellent take on his awkward guy shtick. He somehow manages to shake things up each time, and while Scott Pilgrim is a subtle departure to say the least, the character is its own thing. The Culkin in the flick (the only one I can spot for certain is Mack) offers up one of the coolest Queer characters to ever grace the silver screen in Wallace Wells, the quick-witted best buddy who delivers sage advice while lounging on a double mattress with his aimless straight friend.

Alison Pill (so, so good in Milk), Ellen Wong, and Anna Kendrick are gorgeous and turn in great performances. Brandon Routh and Chris Evans are over-the-top fun as the hot guys we all dreamed of either beating up or kissing (or both) in high school. Johnny Simmons is dreamy, so I don't know or care about his acting. And Jason Schwartzman proves once again that something magic runs in the blood of the Coppola family.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a stylish and original ride through the baffling 22-year-old male mind. It's also one of my favorite movies of the year.


The Expendables: take a straight dude
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

The Expendables
Opening August 13


From the first exploding torso, I knew The Expendables was going to be fun - I just wasn't sure if it was going to be good, clean, action flick fun, or another poorly written, low-budget groaner like the last Rambo movie from 2008. I'm happy to report Stallone's latest is a star-studded, ass-kicking good time, inspired as much by lucha libre and the WWF as the '80s era action flicks it's meant to recall. And it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Barney Ross (Stallone) heads a cadre of aging mercenaries. While conducting reconnaissance for a mission to overthrow a South American dictatorship rife with poverty, shady Americans, and cocaine (I know, I know), Ross and his sidekick Lee Christmas (Jason Statham) meet their beautiful contact Sandra (Giselle Itié).

When the reconnoitering goes awry, the boys make their escape (while offing a couple of hundred nefarious soldiers in a two-man blitzkrieg of blood and fireballs worthy of the legacy the movie seeks so desperately to claim) but the heroic girl stays behind to fight for her people. Once home, Ross finds out there's more to the mission than a simple overthrow of a corrupt general. He also can't get the valiant gesture (or the voluptuous breasts) of Sandra out of his mind.

If you're in this to be emotionally moved, socially edified, or spiritually enlightened, you're in for a huge disappointment and you're obviously not too bright. On the other hand, if you know the difference between a piledriver and a hammerlock, you'll be in action movie heaven.

Sure, some of the one-liners fall flat, but most don't. Yeah, the story doesn't have an ounce of originality, but the explosions are awesome. I know, the villains are predictable and obvious, but the WrestleMania-inspired fight scenes are infused with over-the-top choreography and they will cause involuntary noises of delight.

If you're also into the grotesque, there's enough cartoon limb lopping, face pummeling, and head exploding to keep you satisfied until Machete comes out in September. You'll also enjoy the unseemly specter of male eye surgery gone bad. Stallone's pinched temples and oddly arched eyebrows are frightening, and Mickey Rourke, God bless his underappreciated acting skills, is truly monstrous (but in a glamorous movie star sort of way). Cheers to Dolph Lundgren for aging au naturel, even if he's still gotten ugly as sin.

Jet Li steals scenes left and right as the tiniest member of the mercenary gang whose heart is as big as Statham's bald head. Statham himself reeks of manly sexiness so much I'd swear I was watching in Scratch 'n' Snifferama. And for all you folks who knew the difference between a piledriver and a hammerlock, you'll love the fight scene between Randy "The Natural" Courture and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

I saw The Expendables with my straight buddy, Tony, and we both began to channel our 14-year-old selves about five minutes in. I highly suggest taking one or two straight dudes to see Stallone's latest testosterone fest; they're fun to watch and their sophomoric energy becomes downright infectious. After the screening, I had the strange urge to pick up a couple of bitches and lay some pipe, but I didn't.




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'Un Spectacle Pyrotechinque Magnifique'
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Wildest Dream has it all ... in IMAX
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Scott Pilgrim vs. Un Chien Andalou
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The Expendables: take a straight dude
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Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
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Sufjan Stevens, Smashing Pumpkins, The Moondoggies
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Northwest News
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Letters
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'Richard Kruspe Of Germany's Rammstein Exclusive To The SGN'
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